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Federal High Court Judge Withdraws from Saraki’s Case Over A Report By SaharaReporters

September 30, 2015

Recusing himself today, Justice Mohammed did not specifically identify our report as the reason for his decision, preferring to cite “social media reports” but then explicitly expressing concern about our report.

Justice A.R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja has removed himself from a controversial case filed by the President of the Senate of Nigeria, Bukola Saraki, citing a critical report published by SaharaReporters on his dubious handling of an earlier case of corruption involving Saraki.


Justice Mohammed also cited publications prompted by Saraki which claimed the judge had granted an injunction against his trial, although he had not done so. In order to avoid appearing before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Saraki had hidden under the subterfuge that Justice Mohammed granted an injunction against his trial, but SaharaReporters obtained a copy of the ruling and exposed the Senate President’s ruse.

Recusing himself today, Justice Mohammed did not specifically identify our report as the reason for his decision, preferring to cite “social media reports” but then explicitly expressing concern about our report.

Explaining his dilemma, the judge said: “"While it is not my intention to join issues with the authors of the said publication, I strongly feel that the records should be set straight. In the first instance, I have never made any restraining order against any of the defendants and in particular, the Code of Conduct Tribunal vide a Motion Ex parte or any Motion at all. Those who are conversant with the workings of this Court know it is not in the habit of granting restraining orders to stop public institutions from carrying out their statutory duties.”

He further observed that that if Saraki's claim succeeds in the court in the end, the allegation in our story would seem to have been proved; while if it fails, it would appear that as the judge, he was blackmailed by SaharaReporters not to do justice in the matter.

He decided that the case therefore be sent back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, who will reassign it to another judge 'in the interest of justice'.

Former Kwara State governor Saraki is facing 13 counts of false declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja, which will hear the case for three days beginning on October 21.  

Following an embarrassing incident of being publicly stoned in Ilorin last week by Sallah worshippers who chanted “Ole!” (Thief!), Mr. Saraki has embarked on a major public relations offensive.  In one of them, groups of paid supporters carrying placards with atrocious spelling errors have been publicly singing their “support”.  In another, a group of Senators yesterday passed a vote of confidence in him.

Mr. Saraki also seemed to be extending an olive branch to the executive branch on Tuesday, tweeting support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption offensive.  

If he was expecting to hear any comforting rhetoric from the other side, it was not forthcoming later in the day, as Mr. Buhari told SaharaReporters at the United Nations in New York that the question of his confidence in Mr. Saraki would depend not on the Senators, but on the outcome of his trial at the CCT.